Friday, February 21, 2014

Loving Myself: Protecting Myself

 The thought of protecting myself has seemed so foreign since it was introduced to me weeks ago. When I say this, I'm not talking about a physical protection, although I could definitely work on that too. What I'm talking about is an emotional and spiritual protection.
I was once a little girl with so many dreams; dreams of becoming a famous actor or singer or dancer, dreams of making a huge impact on the world, dreams of volunteering in third world countries and saving lives, even dreams of becoming a surgeon and saving lives daily. As a child, this all seemed realistic and I imagined my life would be full of bliss and free of challenges---but then really, who ever imagines their life full of challenges when they are little?

As a little girl, I was often obnoxious, rude, and I felt like everyone's biggest problem. I always seemed to be in the way. I was sandwiched between amazingly, talented older sisters and two younger special needs siblings. I often believed I was bad because I craved attention all of the time. It was hard to feel stuck because when I didn't get attention, I was lonely but when I got attention, it was often in the form of someone telling me I was trying to get too much attention.

First issue: I felt like an attention-seeker.
 I look at pictures of that little girl and it makes me sad that I can't be the one to go back in time and protect her from her pain. I know my parents knew I "had issues" but no one really knew why or what to do about any of it. Not even me. I was taken to therapists but that only validated my feelings of being a bad kid because 'good kids don't see therapists'. Because I'm a member of a 6 kid family {and I wouldn't trade that for anything...well, maybe 200 million dollars...wait, no...I wouldn't trade it for anything! =)}, I know that getting my parents' attention full time wasn't feasible nor should it have been. But I do know that I needed someone, something to make me feel like I belonged.

I know that now, I didn't know it then.

I grew up so self-conscious about my personality that I overexagerrated often. I told people I prided myself in being different. I didn't want to be like them. I wanted to be over-the-top all of the time. And a part of that is true. I really, truly loved being me. 'Me' was such a special term because I liked who I was.
 But that didn't last forever. It became a hit and miss feeling. Sometimes I loved everything about myself and other times, I couldn't find one single thing to love. I stuffed a lot of pain deep down inside of myself because I didn't want to seem sad and quite frankly, I didn't want to be sad.

I used to think I was this open book, this person that overly-spilled her feelings but looking back and looking forward, my current therapist would laugh from that assumption. It's hard for me to open up about the real stuff. It's hard for me to get emotional because I'm so darn afraid of getting hurt or being judged or even just judging myself for seeming weak.

So many of those feelings seemed left behind when I graduated and was quickly married to that awesome guy who gave me two gorgeous children. I think marriage validated that I was worth something, that someone believed I was worth something. Marriage validated that I had someone who would always be rooting for me, who would always believe in me.

So you can imagine where this is going.

Divorce changed all of that.
 Feelings have resurfaced left and right, dating all the way to early childhood years. At first, I didn't understand this and I didn't want to face it. I absolutely adore my parents and have this fear that by talking about the hard in my childhood, things will resurface in all of us that will take things back to the way they were. Or maybe they'll think I'm ungrateful for the many good experiences I had. Or maybe everyone will perceive me as this giant attention-seeker because quite honestly, that's how I perceive myself.

When I serve others, I'm often double and triple checking to make sure I'm not serving "for the wrong reasons". And if I can successfully label any part of my service as attention-seeking behavior, I feel guilty and I tell myself I'm really, truly, an innately selfish being.

When I'm going through trials, there is a point where I have always believed everything should be better and I should no longer be hurting or bringing attention to myself because that is just overreacting and attention-seeking. My worry of not wanting to be an attention-seeker makes it so that I often lie about the way I'm feeling. And if I do tell the truth, my goodness I'm afraid I'll lose those people I trust so much in my life.

Because even people you trust can leave you.
So here we are. Today. I'm trying to grasp my head around the fact that I need to protect myself from myself. I need to be the type of person I can trust. The bully in my life is me and that is hard to realize.

I like to label a certain reaction of mine as the "spiral effect". In my life, this is the effect that happens when I see an imperfection in myself so I start beating myself down. I'm an emotional bully but only when it comes to me. I often perceive myself as this being that creates drama and annoys people around her. When people thank me for something good I've done, my mind says, "You did that good thing but...*insert some other excuse as to why I'm NOT good here*."

So my goal is to protect that little girl inside of me that always wanted love and sometimes needed extra attention. Instead of hating her and making things worse, I want to love her and encourage her to blossom.

Sounds easy, right?

No, not really. Not even a little bit.

But remember...I can do hard things.


Lisa said...

Thank you for being open and vulnerable! Thank you for being Real! You are brave in my eyes. Keep being you!!!!!!

jobees said...

My hero. I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. Forever and always, my baby you'll be.

Rebecca said...

Hey Suzanne, I really admire your strength and positive attitude. You are amazing and have so many unique talents. As someone who has known you a long time, I know how much you give and care about others. I know God is aware of you and these complicated feelings you're juggling right now, and he will send comfort and relief! (Although it sounds like you do an amazing job of creating that within as well! ) If you ever want to talk, let me know!